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Off Belay: Creating Tomorrow's Superclimbers

Posted on: November 10, 2015


[Cartoon] Tami Knight

Editor's Note: Don't actually do these things. They are terrible ideas. This article is intended as satire only.

Twenty years ago, it still went remarked upon when a young climber burned off his elders—the media would erupt with terms like "phenom" and "prodigy" if a twelve-year-old so much as piddled upwind of a 5.13. In 2015, however, it's a different story: the kids have won. For myself, I'm always puzzled when a nine-year-old girl with pencil arms and a Hello Kitty chalkbag isn't out-climbing me. Perhaps it's only her first, and not second, day on the stone.

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Yet, even as our sport's top athletes train ever harder and with greater scientific rigor, this approach has yet to be applied where it really matters—during that critical first year. Here, six performance tips to help little Wyatt or little Emma imprint the sending habits of the stars early in life:

THE PROBLEM: FEAR OF FALLING

The solution: Demon drop at the amusement park. Parents can help baby Wyatt get over his inborn fear of gravity by riding the demon drop, over and over again, day after day, while taking turns holding him in their laps. While there is some risk his brain might end up lodged in his buttocks or he might fly off the ride, it's certain that he won't mind taking whippers after this "exposure therapy."

THE PROBLEM: POOR TECHNIQUE

The solution: Videos. Playing classical music to your wee one (in or ex utero) is so Aughties—parents of today's future high achievers go visual. So duct-tape a smartphone to the mobile above Emma's crib, queue up some videos, crank the volume to 10 and let her soak it all in (electromagnetic radiation included). Suggested search terms include "total sending sickness" "epic sesh, brau" and "V15 gnar-schralpery: no cutaways, no dab."

THE PROBLEM: HATES TO SUFFER

The solution: You'll never raise world-class alpinists if they can't stand a little discomfort. That's why, once a week, one parent should load Junior into a snuggle carrier, go into a highly air- conditioned basement, and then do jumping jacks for fifty-six hours straight, while the other flings handfuls of gravel and graupel across the pair. Thus does alpinism become lodged in the soul.

THE PROBLEM: POOR STRENGTH-TO-WEIGHT RATIO

The solution: Ah, those chubby little baby legs...so cute, so wubbiful, so nummy. Well, guess what? They're dead weight for sending. Put baby Emma on the diet of 5.15 champions by swapping out her breast milk or formula for a nice warm bottle of liquid chalk and Red Bull. The chalk comes packed with minerals (well, OK, magnesium), while the Red Bull is great for appetite control and motivation.

THE PROBLEM: LACKS POWER

The solution: Climbers have used weight belts for years to run laps on moderate climbs in hopes of building power. Babies need not miss out: sew five pounds of weights into a cloth diaper before Wyatt's next trip up the junior climbing wall, or alternately, just don't change his diaper for a few days so it becomes laden with "natural ballast."

THE PROBLEM: NOT GOOD WITH ICE TOOLS

The solution: Sure, those plastic little-kid tools are cute (little drills, little hammers, etc.), but they don't teach you to utilize and respect cold, hard steel. So if little Emma wants out of her playpen, then she'll damn well have to drytool out with a pair of newly sharpened, drop-pick leashless crag- slayers. I mean, what's the worst that could happen?

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